There was commotion in Parliament on Wednesday after the First Deputy Speaker, Joseph Osei-Owusu rejected a motion from the Minority side of the House seeking to reverse the approval of the 2022 Budget on Tuesday, November 30.
Minority Leader Haruna Iddrisu made an application to be allowed to move a motion to overturn the reinstatement and approval of the Budget by the 137 Majority members of the House, describing it as an illegality and a nullity based on the lack of a quorum.
They also criticised the First Deputy Speaker as counting himself as the 138th member in the Chamber, during the headcount before the voice vote was taken, during Tuesday’s proceeding boycotted by the Minority.
The Minority side of the House had on Friday, November 26, 2021, voted to reject the Budget, asking the government to revise it to address five major concerns, including abandoning the proposal to charge an electronic levy of 1.75 per cent, considering an investment in the Blekusu Sea Defence Wall to stem the Keta tidal waves and withdrawing the Agyapa Royalties deal.
In rejecting the motion of the Minority to overturn the reinstatement and approval of the Budget, Mr Osei-Owusu said the standing orders of the House were clear on which numbers formed a quorum for the commencement of proceedings and for taking decisions.
On his role as an MP presiding as Deputy Speaker, he ruled that he retained his status as an MP, even though he could not vote in that capacity.
Mr Osei-Owusu also stated that a member sitting in as a Speaker retained his rights as an MP, and, therefore had every right to be counted as part of the quorum.
“I am a Member of Parliament, the honourable second deputy speaker is a member of parliament and our role is to assist the Speaker in managing this House,” he explained.
“Any attempt to read and interpret the constitutional role of Mr Speaker to include the deputy speakers is a misreading and a misapplication of the constitution.”
He explained that when the Speaker was unavailable any of the two Deputy Speaker could preside over proceedings in the House, in as much the same way that other members, if necessary, could be recommended to preside.
Consequently, he dismissed the motion to rescind the approval of the Budget.
The ruling had been constantly interrupted by the Minority side, who eventually rejected it, while they were heckled by their Majority counterparts.
Some members shoved and pushed each other near the Clerk’s table and the Mace in Parliament had to be protected by the Marshalls of the House.
Some Minority MPs, who were enraged by the speaker’s ruling rushed to the floor of the Chamber and were joined by some majority members leading to chaotic scenes.
Some Minority MPs in the heat of the chaos noisily criticised the First Deputy Speaker for saying he was not a Speaker.
Mr Osei-Owusu suspended the sitting in view of the chaos.